Check out all of the action from the third quarter-final at Eden Park.
Shaun Johnson’s fourth try in as many matches kept the New Zealand Warriors in the hunt for glory at the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park.
South Sydney came home with a hot finish in the last few minutes but Johnson’s five-point try proved the difference in a 17-16 victory, setting up a semi-final against North Queensland, the team they beat 28-23 in their final pool game earlier today.
The quarter-final, like so many of these games, was big on pure entertainment yet again.
From the kick-off South Sydney went short but the Warriors did a good job to secure possession.
The Rabbitohs went the chip and chase way and threatened but the Vodafone Warriors scrambled, went downfield strongly, Sam Tomkins punching a kick ahead and leading the chase to force a goal-line drop out.
In the repeat set the Warriors put it together with Konrad Hurrell sending Glen Fisiiahi across, Johnson making it 6-0.
They immediately regained possession from a clever restart and Ngani Laumape burrowed over. No conversion and it was 10-0 at the break.
The second half began ominously, South Sydney surging into the home side’s red zone and Chris McQueen scoring after the Vodafone Warriors failed to mop up a kick in-goal. That made it 10-4 and the crowd was suddenly tense.
Johnson had his freakish talents on show again. On the last tackle he accelerated, stepping, swerving and racing through the line. Angling towards the posts looking for the bonus zone he was knocked to the ground but scrambled across and had the presence of mind and skill to reach out and plant the ball just inside the five-point zone.
He didn’t know it then but it proved to be the tie-breaker moment of the quarter-final.
A lead of 17-4 looked comfortable and it should have been only in this form of the game tries come so swiftly. Souths got it back to 10-17 through Nathan Merritt with barely a minute left, reclaimed possession and then set about grabbing a five-point try for a shot at extra time.
It couldn’t have been closer. Dylan Walker scored a try just outside the bonus zone with 15 seconds to go, the conversion making it 17-16.
There was still a chance of Souths pulling off a one-play trick from the restart but their short kick-off was taken safely by Tomkins. Game over.
The sense of relief mixed with elation was palpable among the fervent crowd. The fans wanted only one result of course and they had it, They’re naturally hankering for more.